Chapter 6

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The journey to Fairhaven takes three days by carriage. We pass towns and places I've never seen, traveling further than I've ever dreamed of, but I find that I don't have the strength or desire to watch as the world flashes by our windows.

We hardly stop, only to pick up supplies or attend to our needs as they arise, getting strange looks from people as we stop in random towns along the way. I ignore them all. Willow flushes under the inquisitive gazes, keeping her head down.

At night, we set up camp and Willow and I sleep curled up in the carriage, surrounded by our miniature royal army. General Wyngard apologizes for not having better accommodations but he explains that staying in an inn would make us vulnerable if the monster tracks Willow down again. I'm inclined to agree with him.

Willow hardly speaks the whole way, curled up on the bench next to me, her head on my lap or shoulder. I want to tell her how crazy this whole thing is, how we will get to Fairhaven and it will blow up in our faces. Worst case scenario, it's a trap and they drag us, kicking and screaming to the dungeons, awaiting execution. Best case scenario, they use Willow for a while, delaying her death for however long it takes for the monster to hunt her down.

No, I shake my head. Best case scenario, we get there and the announce that General Wyngard is actually delusional and send us back home with a bag of money for our trouble. The hollow feeling in my stomach tells me just how likely I find that to happen.

But I don't say a word. I will be here for Willow, as I always am. In whatever way I can be.

So instead, I spend the days reading.

After announcing that I would be coming with them, General Wyngard surprisingly didn't protest, simply telling me that if I wanted to come with, they would be leaving immediately. Then he strode out of the house with his arm around Willow.

I had run to my room, grabbing the only thing that mattered before hurrying outside to leave; the book of myths and stories my mother left me.

A book which I was now reading. Flipping through reveals all of the dried flowers Mother pressed between the pages, releasing a sweet, musty scent. I'm busy focusing on reading my favorite story for a third time; the tale of Lady Jana Valysmarr slaying the bone serpent with her legendary blade, Mercy.

I'm so absorbed in the book that I don't notice that the carriage has stopped until a knock sounds on the door. I tuck the book back into my jacket pocket, pulling back the heavy velvet curtain.

"Ladies," General Wyngard says, with a shallow bow of his head. "I merely wished to warn you that we will be arriving soon. I sent a messenger ahead earlier, so they should be expecting us."

He's been very vague about who we should expect upon arriving. Actually, he's been pretty vague about everything. But what do I know? Apparently, trusting a total stranger and allowing them to whisk you away to a place you've only ever heard of, is completely logical. I can't resist giving Willow a sour look out of the corner of my eye but she's too busy focusing on the general to see.

"Where exactly are we going? We've never been to Fairhaven before so I know nothing of the city."

Never been to Fairhaven is her generous way of saying we've never been anywhere. Especially never the royal city, which we've only heard about a few times from Mariel Bonnard, who had apparently visited a time or two with her lord husband.

"We'll be going through the city itself, to the castle located on the west side." He gives us a quick description of the layout of Fairhaven. Apparently, the city, the largest in Lumor, borders the castle to the east and south. The castle itself has a lake on it's backside and a forest wrapping around it, which General Wyngard explains, are used extensively for training the new recruits and soldiers stationed there. When we question him further, he simple brushes us off with a dismissive, "You'll see."

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